Scott Johnson Composer

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Gone (2004) 10.00
electric or acoustic guitar

Commissioned by David Tanenbaum with support from the San Francisco Conservatory.  Premiered by David Tanenbaum (on acoustic guitar), Dec. 5/04, San Francisco Conservatory.

Notes on the Music

Although I’ve performed as electric guitarist on many of my compositions, Gone is the first work I’ve written for solo guitar without any live electronics or taped accompaniment.  The piece grew from a sketch I had been keeping for several years, containing the three areas heard as the piece opens: a low, simple blues-like line that climbs and multiplies until it reaches the plateau of a restrained requiem march, arriving finally at a more openly expressive, more purely minor culmination.  All appear over a low E pedal that regularly returns throughout the piece, remaining stable even when contradicted by rapidly moving harmonies above; harmonies that are often horizontally chromatic but vertically consonant, as in many of my recent compositions.  At one point, I considered developing this sketch as one of several movements in a solo work for my own use.  But the material wanted to move beyond the limitations of the guitar technique that I’m willing to maintain, and towards this self-enclosed work, too sizeable for a place in a cycle of many small movements. 

As I was working, my girlfriend from high school/college years entered the final stages of an illness, and this colored the course of the piece, and gave it a title.  The music that developed evokes for me the recollection, fondness, and loss of watching the endless present of youth recede into the past.  Appearances of the opening materials are repeatedly interrupted by outbursts and reveries; lively memories, and sorrow or anger over their passing.  All of these contrasting areas appear as cracks in the wall of restraint and resignation suggested by that early march.

  ©2008 Scott Johnson. All rights reserved.
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